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Two issues with the Tesla

After seeing the Tesla in Toronto last weekend, I have two issues with it.
1.) Lack of towing hitch. I don't have any plans to tow anything, but with a tow hitch, you can put on a bike rack that would be more desirable than having a roof-mounted rack. It's more aerodynamic and easier to get bikes on/off the rack. I feel (for me) that this is a serious short-coming which would have me wait for the Model X or get a completely different vehicle altogether.

2.) Google Maps. Of course the Model S comes with 3G wireless (in one shape or another) and it relies on Google Maps. The serious flaw I see here is that if you are in a poor 3G location, you won't be able to use the navigation system. Also performance would be an issue, especially if you want to scroll around a map. This would result in a poor end-user experience. The only saving grace here is that I can see Garmin or TomTom selling a Tesla App that comes pre-built with GPS maps (or you can use a stand-alone device, which defeats the purpose of having such a big screen).

With Tesla positioning this vehicle as a high-end automobile, I'm surprised that they are seemingly cutting corners on such fundamental (functional) features. I can only hope that they change their minds and at least provide these two features as options at time of sale. I guess the Garmin/TomTom maps would require some partnership with a 3rd-party.


1 -- can get a tow hitch installed by a 3rd party on most vehicles. I don't see this as a limiting factor. On other hand, I know I won't be installing a hitch on the model S.

2 -- I've seen it said elsewhere that the nav system downloads 300 mile radius of whereever it is. So that slow 3G (or w/e) speed should only be a single hit for most people. This is pretty typical for cloud computing aware folks -- bandwidth is just considered / assumed plentiful and data storage is simply assumed as cache even if it isn't explicitly stated. Therefore even at a slow rate, I don't think you'll be able to outrun the area until you get deep into the boonies.

@sarge7359, 2
Perhaps they should bump it to a 320mi radius and then it's by-definition no problem (unless you're towing a charger).


@brianman Are you assuming that charging stations and cables include ethernet connectivity to fill the next 320 miles of cache with the electrons? :)

Yes, I presumed they'd have wi-fi because it would be foolish planning for it to be absent.

But yes, technically you could have a charging station in the middle of nowhere with a relative abundance of power but no internet.

The towing hitch issue has also been discussed in this thread
and the bike rack issue has been discussed here:

It's all speculation at this point, but to me it doesn't seem unlikely that the aluminum body structure of the Model S does not allow for towing anything significant. I would be surprised if it could not support a bike rack on the tow hitch, but *if* you cannot really tow anything, that may be a good-enough reason not to offer a tow hitch at all.

I would be extremely careful with third-party towing hitches on the Model S, exactly because of its unusual aluminum body. I would not want some tinkerer ruin it... But that may just be my overly-German nature. ;-)

There is said to be an upgrade option for a nav system with locally stored map data. This eliminates downloading & caching data, maybe except updates that the vendor publishes.

Google maps will let you cache any piece of the map. This is not specific to the car. If it indeed caches 300 miles around you when you are on WiFi then I think the problem is solved. I can use my phone as a wireless access point and the car wouldn't know the difference and cache more map data if needed. This of course takes a chuck out of your wireless data alotment if you have one but should work. In the US, just find a Starbucks or Holiday Inn. They all have WiFi.

As to the bike rack: I am with Volker-Berlin, I would be careful getting some 3rd party one mounted (if they are even going to make one) on this car because of the interaction of aluminum of the car and steel of the hitch. And then there is of course the low ride hide....

Isn't Model S' cargo hold big enough to contain a bike?

Elon Musk is quoted saying that you can tote a surfboard, 50-inch TV, roadbike and Great Dane all at once (presumably with the back row seats folded down).

I'd assume that you might be able to carry a single bike without folding down the seats, if you remove at least the front wheel, but it's probably tight and may depend on the exact type and size of bike. A children's bike shouldn't be any problem at all. In any case, it is questionable if you want to have a bike and all associated dirt inside the car... Probably not on a regular basis.

I will be getting a roof rack or a hitch mount rack since I will be carrying around several bikes at a time with at least 4 people in the car.

And I'd rather have a hitch mount as it's better for air drag. But the 'special' cost of mounting to an aluminum chassis might be prohibitive as well as possibly voiding the warranty.

I also will be getting the panoramic roof option so we'll see what happens...

As far as maps go I have faith that Tesla will download 'enough' maps based on your destination as well as know the areas that have cell coverage as a back. I expect the car to let you know when your planned route takes you out of a coverage area.

"I also will be getting the panoramic roof option so we'll see what happens..."

It's a good thing, since evidently the pano roof will be required to get the roof rack option.

As for the maps, IMO if it's that important to you, then either buy the NAV upgrade or buy a Garmin for when you need it.

I just got back from a trip to Zion and the Grand Cayon. I used a 10" Android tablet as my nav system. The tablet is wifi only. I had no problems loading all the maps I needed in Vegas before pushing off for the two week trip.
I was also amazed how many places had wifi.
There was also the option of using my 3g phone as a wifi hotspot and connecting the tablet thru that if I needed. The only problem I noticed is there was no 3g service when it would have been needed if the Tablet crashed. It would have been easier to just find a McDonalds and connect to wifi.

I will probably not be getting 3g service with my Model S.

Yeah, if you're gonna be doing all your driving out in the boonies, of course you don't want the 3g service. :-D

And you don't need 3G if you don't want to contact your car remotely, a feature which, I'm guessing, won't work without internet connectivity.

Perhaps if you park at home and at work and WiFi is available in both places, you'll be able to control it at those places without 3G.

There was some hint that connectivity to the car could be "thin" or "thick": thin controlling only basic functions, e.g. sending data back to Tesla, car controls, while thick provides full internet connectivity.

Anyone who does get a hitch will have to make sure it is either made of aluminum like the car or that they don't have different metals touching. You don't want to. Trigger any premature oxidation.

Good point that the trunk or frunk might be big enough for a bike without the front wheel. I just never think about how much cargo space the Model S has.

"Without the seats, there's enough cargo space for two bikes, a pair of backpacks and more."

It doesn't say anything about how the bikes (or the seats) have to be folded, but obviously it is meant to say that cargo space is ample.

I bet you could get an autoshop to attach a trailer hitch for a price.

What would they attach it to? The aluminum body? Or would they drill holes and somehow bolt it to the supports?

I had UHaul put on my trailer hitch for Lexus RX. It was made by the same large hitch company that Lexus uses, except UHaul charged a LOT less.

Curt Manufacturing was the manufacturer, and they put UHaul branding on it. Uhaul charged about $50 to install, hitch was about $150. My vehicle was pre-wired for lights, so I bought a harness connector for $10 or $15, and UHaul connected it as part of the deal.

So perhaps Curt (or another large hitch manufacturer) may make a hitch, as long as there enough demand for it.

Your Lexus RX has a steel body, not aluminum, and it is designed with the trailer hitch option in mind. Bluntly, I would let others have their 3rd party hitches mount on their Model S'es first and see what they find out, before potentially ruining my own "S".

I would guess that Tesla would put something in their Owner's Manual to state what if any towing would be advisable with the Model S.

My hitch isn't used for towing, just caring a bicycle or two.

Perhaps that will work, as I know there was at least one other interested in carrying bicycles with a rear hitch set-up.

But again, we will have to just wait an see what recommendations that Tesla has, just as other car manufacturers do.

For carrying bikes, a better option might be a rack that clips on to the hatchback. I had one years ago for my VW Rabbit. Like this:

With the front wheel off, a bike or bikes should fit in the "trunk", even with the back seat up. Other than that, we'll need to wait and see what will work once Tesla announces the options or we have our cars.

I know the towing hitch has been discussed ad nauseum. Andit seems to be a European thing moreso than in the US. But I guess I just haven't ever seen any BMW 5s or 7s or Jaguar XFs or Benz E's with towing hitches. It just seems odd to me to use the S to tow. But to each his/her own. Just stating I've never seen any of those (comparable) cars used to tow anything. I can't even recall seeing bike racks on any of them either.

The Porsche Panamera has an optional retractable tow hitch and virtually all Porsches have roof rack options. Don't know about BMWs, Jags, or Benzes.

Experian Automotive found that households with three or more cars are the single largest group among American car owners. The United States has a national average of 2.28 vehicles per household. With 2.59 persons per household on average, that works out to 880 cars per 1000 Americans. In Italy, Germany and Austria, that figure is 490 cars per 1000.

Soooo... Europeans demand that their cars serve more diverse roles, while Americans have more vehicles and can therefore specialize function more.

My sister, e.g., has a BMW 335 and a Toyota Highlander. Guess which one has a tow hitch. :-)

Robert.Boston, "Europeans demand that their cars serve more diverse roles" -- definitely true (and I am European).

We Germans want our Rennreiselimousine!

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